Since Socrates, and through Descartes to the present day, the problems of self-knowledge have been central to philosophy's understanding of itself. Today the idea of ''first-person authority''--the claim of a distinctive relation each person has toward his or her own mental life--has been challenged from a number of directions, to the point where many doubt the person bears any distinctive relation to his or her own mental life, let alone a privileged one. In Authority and Estrangement, Richard Moran argues for (...) a reconception of the first-person and its claims. Indeed, he writes, a more thorough repudiation of the idea of privileged inner observation leads to a deeper appreciation of the systematic differences between self-knowledge and the knowledge of others, differences that are both irreducible and constitutive of the very concept and life of the person.Masterfully blending philosophy of mind and moral psychology, Moran develops a view of self-knowledge that concentrates on the self as agent rather than spectator. He argues that while each person does speak for his own thought and feeling with a distinctive authority, that very authority is tied just as much to the disprivileging of the first-person, to its specific possibilities of alienation. Drawing on certain themes from Wittgenstein, Sartre, and others, the book explores the extent to which what we say about ourselves is a matter of discovery or of creation, the difficulties and limitations in being ''objective'' toward ourselves, and the conflicting demands of realism about oneself and responsibility for oneself. What emerges is a strikingly original and psychologically nuanced exploration of the contrasting ideals of relations to oneself and relations to others. (shrink)
The paper argues for the centrality of believing the speaker (as distinct from believing the statement) in the epistemology of testimony, and develops a line of thought from Angus Ross which claims that in telling someone something, the kind of reason for belief that a speaker presents is of an essentially different kind from ordinary evidence. Investigating the nature of the audience's dependence on the speaker's free assurance leads to a discussion of Grice's formulation of non-natural meaning in an epistemological (...) light, concentrating on just how the recognition of the speaker's self-reflexive intention is supposed to count for his audience as a reason to believe P. This is understood as the speaker's explicitly assuming responsibility for the truth of his statement, and thereby constituting his utterance as a reason to believe. (shrink)
The notion of ‘bipolar’ or ‘second-personal’ normativity is often illustrated by such situations as that of one person addressing a complaint to another, or asserting some right, or claiming some authority. This paper argues that the presence of speech acts of various kinds in the development of the idea of the ‘second-personal’ is not accidental. Through development of a notion of ‘illocutionary authority’ I seek to show a role for the ‘second-personal’ in ordinary testimony, despite Darwall's argument that the notion (...) of the ‘second-personal’ marks a divide between practical and theoretical reason. (shrink)
remarks some lessons about self-knowledge (and some other self-relations) as well as use them to throw some light on what might seem to be a fairly distant area of philosophy, namely, Sartre's view of the person as of a divided nature, divided between what he calls the self-as-facticity and the self-as-transcendence. I hope it will become clear that there is not just perversity on my part in bringing together Wittgenstein and the last great Cartesian. One specific connection that will occupy (...) me here is their shared hostility to the idea of theoretical certainty as our model for the authority of ordinary self-knowledge, and their relating of such a theoretical model to specific forms of self-alienation. This, in turn, is related to another concern they share, a concern with the difficulties, philosophical and otherwise, in conceiving of oneself as but one person in the world among others. (shrink)
It is undeniable that the assumption of sincerity is important to assertion, and that assertion is central to the transmission of beliefs through human testimony. Discussions of testimony, however, often assume that the epistemic importance of sincerity to testimony is that of a (fallible) guarantee of access to the actual beliefs of the speaker. Other things being equal, we would do as well or better if we had some kind of unmediated access to the beliefs of the other person, without (...) the risks involved in the overt act of speaking, and the assumption of sincerity in speech is the closest we can come to this access. Contrary to this picture, I argue that sincerity has a quite different epistemic role to play in testimony than that of an indicator of the speaker's beliefs. The epistemology of testimony requires reference to the speaker as agent, and not just the speaker's beliefs, as well as a sense of 'expression of belief' that links it to the specifically addressive relation to another person. (shrink)
One way in which the characteristic gestures of philosophy and criticism differ from each other lies in their involvements with disillusionment, with the undoing of our naivete, especially regarding what we take ourselves to know about the meaning of what we say. Philosophy will often find less than we thought was there, perhaps nothing at all, in what we say about the “external” world, or in our judgments of value, or in our ordinary psychological talk. The work of criticism, on (...) the other hand, frequently disillusions by finding disturbingly more in what is said than we precritically thought was there. In our relation to the meaningfulness of what we say, there is a disillusionment of plentitude as well as of emptiness. And no doubt what is “less” for one discipline may be “more” of what someone else is looking for.In recent years, metaphor has attracted more than its share of both philosophical and critical attention, including philosophical denials of the obvious, as well as critical challenges to the obviousness of the ways we talk about metaphor. In this paper I discuss a problem of each sort and suggest a complex of relations between them. The particular denial of the obvious that I’m interested in is the claim recently made by Donald Davidson that “a metaphor doesn’t say anything beyond its literal meaning ,” nor is it even correct to speak of metaphor as a form of communication.1 There’s disillusionment with a vengeance; and even if not strictly believable, it is still not without its therapeutic value, as we shall see. 1. Donald Davidson, “What Metaphors Mean,” in On Metaphor, ed. Sheldon Sacks , p. 30; hereafter abbreviated “WMM.” Davidson’s view has found supporters among both philosophers and literary theorists. It is, for example, important to the early argument of Richard Rorty’s recent book. See his Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity , p. 18. Richard Moran is an assistant professor of philosophy at Princeton University. He is currently working on a book on subjectivity and contemporary concepts of personhood. (shrink)
Among the legacies of Elizabeth Anscombe's 1957 monograph Intention are the introduction of the notion of 'practical knowledge' into contemporary philosophical discussion of action, and her claim, pursued throughout the book, that an agent's knowledge of what he is doing is characteristically not based on observation.' Each idea by itself has its own obscurities, of course, but my focus here will be on the relation between the two ideas, how it is that the discussion of action may lead us to (...) speak of non-observational knowledge at all, and how this notion can be part of the understanding of a kind of ordinary knowledge that we have reason to consider practical rather than speculative. Anscombe mentions several quite different things under the heading of 'non-observational knowledge', and she first introduces the notion of the nonobservational for purely dialectical purposes, associated with the task of setting out the field she wants to investigate, in a way that ... (shrink)
Metaphor enters contemporary philosophical discussion from a variety of directions. Aside from its obvious importance in poetics, rhetoric, and aesthetics, it also figures in such fields as philosophy of mind (e.g., the question of the metaphorical status of ordinary mental concepts), philosophy of science (e.g, the comparison of metaphors and explanatory models), in epistemology (e.g., analogical reasoning), and in cognitive studies (in, e.g., the theory of concept-formation). This article will concentrate on issues metaphor raises for the philosophy of language, with (...) the understanding that the issues in these various fields cannot be wholly isolated from each other. Metaphor is an issue for the philosophy of language not only for its own sake, as a linguistic phenomenon deserving of analysis and interpretation, but also for the light it sheds on non-figurative language, the domain of the literal which is the normal preoccupation of the philosopher of language. A poor reason for this preoccupation would be the assumption that purely literal language is what most language-use consists in, with metaphor and the like sharing the relative infrequency and marginal status of songs or riddles. This would not be a good reason not only because mere frequency is not a good guide to theoretical importance, but also because it is doubtful that the assumption is even true. In recent years, writers with very different concerns have pointed out that figurative language of one sort or another is a staple of the most. (shrink)
central to virtually all contemporary thinking on self-consciousness and first-person authority. And a good measure of its importance has been not only as an evolving philosophical account of these phenomena, but also as a model of an account that places the capacity for specifically first-person awareness of one's mental states at the center of what it is to be a subject of mental states in the first place. For not every philosophical account of introspection will take its specifically first-person features (...) to be essential to it (e.g., if it is allowed that this "faculty" could in principle be directed at the mind of another person), or seek to account for the capacity for self-knowl-. (shrink)
Beauty is a contested concept insofar as it seeks to mark a categorical distinction among the sources of pleasure, typically in terms of oppositions such as objective/subjective, universal/particular, necessity/contingency. Kant represents a culmination of this tradition in defining the judgment of beauty in terms of the requirement for universal agreement, modeling the judgment of beauty as closely as possible to ordinary factual judgments. A different tradition of thinking about beauty, however, while still seeking to mark a categorical distinction by reference (...) to the idea of necessity, finds the relevant sense of necessity not in conditions of agreement but necessities of erotic love and the sense of requirement felt toward its objects. This paper explores the consequences of taking this other tradition seriously, using Proust as a representative exemplar, as a way both of making sense of some of the features Kant ascribes to the concept of the beautiful, while avoiding the paradoxes stemming from his focus on the conditions for universal agreement. (shrink)
Of course in every act of this kind, there remains the possibility of putting this act into question – insofar as it refers to more distant, more essential ends.... For example the sentence which I write is the meaning of the letters I trace, but the whole work I wish to produce is the meaning of the sentence. And this work is a possibility in connection with which I can feel anguish; it is truly my possibility...tomorrow in relation to it (...) my freedom can exercise its nihilating power. (shrink)
A short critical response to Hannah Ginsborg’s book, The Normativity of Nature, in which I raise some questions about how to understand the idea that calling something beautiful is a form of praise of that thing.
In this article, I respond to the comments of six philosophers on my book Authority and Estrangement: An Essay on Self-knowledge. My reply to Josep Corbí mostly concerns the relation between the two modes of self-knowledge I call ‘avowal’ and ‘attribution’, and the sense of activity involved in self-knoweldge; in responding to Josep Prades I try to clarify my picture of deliberation and show that it is not ‘intellectualist’ in an objectionable sense; Komarine Romdenh-Romluc’s paper enables me to say some (...) things about the idea of unconscious beliefs, specifically in relation to the phenomenological tradition; the paper by Hilan Bensusan and Manuel de Pinedo helps me to clarify my sense of the relation of the first-person perspective to the specifically normative relation to one’s beliefs and other attitudes; and Carla Bagnoli’s paper provides an opportunity to explore some connections between the deliberative stance and the notion of recognition in Hegel and in contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
In an 1896 letter to Wilhelm Fliess, the first and primary confidante for his fledgling ideas, the young Sigmund Freud wrote: “I see that you are using the circuitous route of medicine to attain your first ideal, the physiological understanding of man, while I secretly nurse the hope of arriving by the same route at my own original objective, philosophy. For that was my original ambition, before I knew what I was intended to do in the world.”1 When philosophy is (...) mentioned in his later, published, writings, it will normally be an occasion for Freud to disavow any such connection with the enterprise of psychoanalysis, a repeated gesture of denial that naturally only goes to show how profound the relationship must really be. For many years now, Jonathan Lear has been one of the great mediators between the worlds of philosophy and psychoanalysis, showing us what they have to learn from each other, and what they have difficulty 1 accepting from each other. In these lectures he explores a connection between a stance toward oneself that is furthered in the psychoanalytic session, and a stance towards one‟s life to which Kierkegaard gives the name „irony‟. I will begin my remarks with some thoughts about the general picture of irony presented in Professor Lear‟s lectures, and its relation to certain philosophical claims for the role of what is variously called „critical reflection‟, „self-consciousness‟, or the metaphor of “stepping back” from some aspect of one‟s thought or engagement in the world. I will then focus on the idea of self-knowledge at play in the lectures and the role of something called „expression‟ in this context. (shrink)
It is not unusual for even the very greatest polemics to proceed through some unfairness toward what they attack, indeed to draw strength from the very distortions which they impose upon their targets. In the same way that a good caricature of a person’s face enables us to see something that we feel was genuinely there to be seen all along, a conviction that persists in the face of, and may indeed be sustained by, our ongoing sense of the discrepancy (...) between the picture and the reality. Some such distortion may be necessary in order to point to or make visible a feature that is perfectly present, but is obscured by the mass of other details. In the case of ideas and systems of thought there is an additional reason for a positive concern with distortion, and that is that we do not encounter ideas in a social or intellectual void. Rather, they come to us through their admirers, detractors, followers and opponents. The social and intellectual reception and dissemination of Plato, or Marx, or the Bible are now and forever part of the meaning of those texts, and this remains true however demonstrable it may be that their reception involves a large distortion of what is actually there in those texts. To concern oneself with them must also be to concern oneself with what both their advocates and opponents have made of them, and in this or that context this image may be of greater social and intellectual importance than the question of strictly ‘correct’ readings. And of course for no contemporary school of philosophy has the social and cultural milieu of its reception been more important to its identity as a trend of thought than in the case of Existentialism, particularly in its French, Sartrean form. Today, of course, it has been a fact of intellectual life within the Academy for over 30 years that Existentialism has no friends, and is.. (shrink)
take ourselves to know about the meaning of what we say. Philosophy will often find less than we thought was there, perhaps nothing at all, in what we say about the "external" world, or in our judgments of value, or in our ordinary psychological talk. The work of criticism, on the other hand, frequently disillusions by finding disturbingly more in what is said than we precritically thought was there. In our relation to the meaningfulness of what we say, there is (...) a disillusionment of plenti- tude as well as of emptiness. And no doubt what is "less" for one disci- pline may be "more" of what someone else is looking for. In recent years, metaphor has attracted more than its share of.. (shrink)
Among the legacies of Elizabeth Anscombe's 1957 monograph Intention are the introduction of the notion of ‘practical knowledge’ into contemporary philosophical discussion of action, and her claim, pursued throughout the book, that an agent's knowledge of what he is doing is characteristically not based on observation. Each idea by itself has its own obscurities, of course, but my focus here will be on the relation between the two ideas, how it is that the discussion of action may lead us to (...) speak of non-observational knowledge at all, and how this notion can be part of the understanding of a kind of ordinary knowledge that we have reason to consider practical rather than speculative. Anscombe mentions several quite different things under the heading of ‘non-observational knowledge’, and she first introduces the notion of the nonobservational for purely dialectical purposes, associated with the task of setting out the field she wants to investigate, in a way that avoids begging the very questions she means to raise. She needs a way of distinguishing the class of movements to which a special sense of the question ‘Why?’ applies, but which doesn't itself employ the concepts of ‘being intentional’ or ‘acting for a reason’. Section 8 begins: “What is required is to describe this class without using any notions like ‘intended’ or ‘willed’ or ‘voluntary’ and ‘involuntary’. This can be done as follows: we first point out a particular class of things which are true of a man: namely the class of things which he knows without observation.” She first illustrates this by the example of knowledge of the position of one's limbs, the immediate way one can normally tell, e.g., whether one's knee is bent or not. But examples of this sort are in fact ill suited to shed light on the idea of ‘practical knowledge’, which is the true focus of the idea of the non-observational in the study of action. When we see this we will be better able to see why Anscombe is concerned with the non-observational in the first place, and how this concern is tied to other characteristic Anscombian theses, for instance that an action will be intentional under some descriptions but not others, and that practical knowledge is distinguished from speculative knowledge in being “the cause of what it understands”. And we will be able to understand how it is that an agent can be said to know without observation that he is doing something like painting the wall yellow, when this knowledge so patently involves claims about what is happening in the world, matters which it seems could only be known observationally. (shrink)
Traditionnellement, la philosophie a pensé la connaissance de soi sur le mode problématique d’un sujet faisant de lui-même son propre objet de connaissance. Constatant l’impasse où mène cette approche contemplative de la connaissance de soi, Richard Moran propose de la repenser à partir de la responsabilité de la personne vis-à-vis de ses propres attitudes et de l’autorité de l’agent sur ses propres actions.En abordant la connaissance de soi sous l’angle d’une psychologie morale, Autorité et aliénation la renouvelle en profondeur en (...) mettant en évidence non seulement l’autorité de la première personne, mais aussi ses défaillances et ses limites. Je peux me tromper sur mon compte. Faisant dialoguer la philosophie analytique et la philosophie continentale, de Wittgenstein à Sartre, Richard Moran montre que l’aliénation, comprise comme une forme d’étrangeté à soi , délimite, autant que l’autorité, les contours de la connaissance de soi. (shrink)
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